Cadet makes mem­o­ries in Hong Kong

Western Bay teen goes on cadet ex­change to Asia


Western Bay’s Chelsea Walsh is one of four Cana­dian cadets who had the op­por­tu­nity to travel to Hong Kong this sum­mer. The 17-year-old took part in a cer­e­mony to hon­our Cana­di­ans who died de­fend­ing the for­mer Bri­tish colony. It’s a trip the 17-year-old won’t soon for­get.

It was the sur­prise of a life­time for 17-year-old Chelsea Walsh when she re­ceived a call telling her she was go­ing to Hong Kong.

The Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate stu­dent is a mem­ber of the 295 Bac­calieu Sea Cadet Corps out of Old Per­li­can. The call came from com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Lt.-Cmdr. Cliff Mor­gan.

“When I an­swered the call, Mr. Mor­gan asked me to sit down,” Chelsea laughed. “I thought I got staff (at camp). But then he told me that I got picked for an ex­change.”

Much to her sur­prise, she learned she would be one of four Cana­dian cadets fly­ing over­seas to Hong Kong — two from Bri­tish Columbia and one from Que­bec also at­tended. It’s one of the most ex­clu­sive trips a young sea cadet can par­tic­i­pate in. An of­fi­cer from Bri­tish Columbia was also in at­ten­dance.

Get­ting picked

Hong Kong wasn’t her first choice. In fact, it wasn’t her sec­ond. Chelsea had ap­plied to Ja­pan and Aus­tralia, but thought she’d take the chance to ap­ply for Hong Kong. She didn’t think she would get it.

It was a cou­ple of days be­fore the Western Bay res­i­dents was able to share her news, since Mor­gan wanted to share it with the corps first. But when she could tell ev­ery­one she was so ex­cited. But as the day to leave came closer she be­gan to get more ner­vous.

It all went away once she hopped on a plane to Van­cou­ver for the first leg of her jour­ney on July 27.

Af­ter a cou­ple nights tour­ing the most western province in Canada, they set off for Hong Kong, three days ear­lier than corps from other coun­tries.

Cul­tural dif­fer­ences

The trip was not just about an ex­change for cadets, but also to learn about other cul­tures of the world. One of the big­gest changes go­ing from Canada to Hong Kong is the food. Chelsea got used to it quickly.

“There were ducks and chick­ens hang­ing in the win­dows of stores,” she re­called. “And if you ask for wa­ter, they serve it hot.”

Although she didn’t eat ev­ery­thing, she did try a lot of the food she didn’t rec­og­nize. She laughed re­call­ing the time she de­clined to try chicken feet when it was served to her. Since com­ing home, Chelsea has de­cided to take a break from rice and noo­dles, since they were served with just about ev­ery meal.

The con­stant smell em­a­nat­ing from dry­ing fish was another new sen­sa­tion for her.

“It was ev­ery­where,” she ex­plained.

She also learned how to hag­gle for goods at a lo­cal mar­ket.

“You would ask how much some­thing was, and then walk away and say it’s too much,” Chelsea said. “Then they would chase af­ter you and say, ‘How much will you pay?’”

Ceme­tery in Hong Kong

Chelsea and her corps started off their ad­ven­ture with­out other cadets, which gave them the chance to ex­plore on their own. Be­tween tour­ing, snorkel div­ing in the coral reef and some shop­ping, the first few days were busy.

But it was the day the group vis­ited a ceme­tery that made one of the big­gest im­pres­sions on them.

The Sai Wan War Ceme­tery is a mil­i­tary rest­ing place for sol­diers that died in the Sec­ond World War. There are 228 named Cana­di­ans who died de­fend­ing Hong Kong, and Chelsea and her corps were in­vited to be a part of a cer­e­mony com­mem­o­rat­ing it.

“They asked us to lay a wreath for the Cana­di­ans who fought for the Bat­tle of Hong Kong,” she said.

Chelsea was asked to write about the ex­pe­ri­ence. Her story will be pub­lished na­tion­ally by Cadets Canada in the com­ing months.

Fun ac­tiv­i­ties

When the corps from all over the world fi­nally got to­gether, it was awk­ward at first, said Chelsea. But it didn’t take long for ev­ery­one to warm up to each other.

“I just screamed out, ‘selfie’ and ev­ery­one came run­ning over,” she laughed. “They re­ally like their self­ies over there.”

Part of get­ting to know each other in­volved bring­ing some info about their home coun­tries to the rest of the cadets. It was a chance for each par­tic­i­pant to see what other places are like.

The coun­tries that par­tic­i­pated in­cluded Canada, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, Korea, the United King­dom and the United States.

Other group ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a cruise, sin­gle-per­son ca­noe­ing, dragon boating and tours of mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties. They learned dif­fer­ent drills and tried on driv­ing hel­mets. She even got stung by a big bug on a hike, which she laughs about now.

But one thing Chelsea will al­ways re­mem­ber about the trip is the visit to the Tian Tan Buddha.

“We vis­ited the big Buddha,” she ex­claimed. “Two hun­dred and sixty steps later… It was gor­geous. It’s some­thing that I’m never go­ing to for­get.”

That goes for the whole trip in gen­eral, she added. From the mo­ment she stepped on the flight in St. John’s, to the typhoon on the last night in Hong Kong, ev­ery mem­ory she will trea­sure. She re­turned to New­found­land last Wed­nes­day.

“I just got the op­por­tu­nity to go to Hong Kong, all ex­penses paid,” she said. “It was def­i­nitely some­thing I will al­ways re­mem­ber.”


One of Chelsea Walsh’s (front cen­tre) favourite mem­o­ries of Hong Kong was when she called out to all the cadets to take a selfie to­gether and they all rushed over.

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